Bill Shanks

Patriots may just do it again

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) warms up during a practice Friday in Minneapolis. The Patriots are scheduled to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl 52 on Sunday.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) warms up during a practice Friday in Minneapolis. The Patriots are scheduled to face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Super Bowl 52 on Sunday. AP

Life can be cruel sometimes, especially for sports fans in the state of Georgia.

Saturday morning, I was watching TV and decided to turn it on NFL Network. I thought I’d see what they were saying from Minneapolis, where the Super Bowl will be played Sunday night.

Instead, I was kicked in the gut, punched in the face and had to suffer through a nightmare all over again. Well, I didn’t have to, but I decided to watch it anyway. Maybe we chose to suffer through bad experiences all over again to make us stronger.

Yeah, that’s it.

What was on TV? Last year’s Super Bowl. There happened to be 1:57 left in the game. Atlanta was up by eight points, 28-20. So, you can imagine what I chose to watch.

I could have turned it to something else, but I watched it. I watched New England tie the game. I watched them win the coin toss and scoot down the field to win their fifth Super Bowl. I saw the biggest tragedy in the sports history of this state.

I’m still shaking my head as I write about it. How in the world could that have happened? How could the Patriots have come back, down by 25 points, and win that game and break our hearts?

I was there, but that was the first time since the day after the game I had watched it again. It was just as painful as it was 52 weeks ago. It was just as incredible to see how the Falcons choked.

And now, while the Falcons are home, we get to watch the Patriots again Sunday. I’m not mad at the Patriots, or Bill Belichick or Tom Brady. It’s not their fault the Falcons blew it. They were a great team, and great teams take advantage of a team blowing a chance to win it all.

It’s understandable why the Patriots are hated. They are good. They win. Fans get tired of the same team winning all the time. It’s why the Steelers were hated in the 1970s, why the 49ers were hated in the 80s. It’s even why the Braves were despised for more than a decade in baseball. Teams that win a lot are usually hated.

But as you watch the game Sunday night, you’ll likely say, “They’re going to win. They’re the Patriots.” Just like many around the country said the same thing on Jan. 8 when Alabama played Georgia. You know most believed the Crimson Tide would win. They usually do, and they did.

Some believe this year’s New England team had an easy track to the Super Bowl. They beat Tennessee, a team that would fire its head coach a few days after the loss, in the second round. Then the Patriots beat the Jaguars in yet another comeback, a game that was eerily similar last year’s win over the Falcons.

Can the Eagles finally stop New England’s well-oiled machine? Well, they’ll have to do it with a backup quarterback. Most believed Philadelphia was dead when Carson Wentz, a MVP candidate at the time, was injured. But Nick Foles had been very effective, and he may just finish out his magical story.

I just don’t know how you can bet against New England. Like them or hate them, Belichick and Brady are the best coach and quarterback in NFL history. They’re just special, and you feel like they’ll find a way to win, even against a team like Philadelphia that has a very good defense.

Some Falcons fans are protesting, saying they won’t watch. But they will. Their curiosity will get the best of them and they’ll wonder if the Patriots can do it again. And they will.

And, unfortunately, if the Eagles grab an early lead and put the Patriots in a bind, you know what we’ll hear about. We’ll have to relive last year all over again, just like I did Saturday morning.

Maybe this time New England can control the game so we won’t have to hear all about last year’s Super Bowl. I might turn it off next time. One replay of that debacle is enough.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at and email him at